Pierret Oxford Alto (1948)

The Story

I have been intrigued with French saxophone manufacturers for many years, so it’s great to be able to review another one on this site. From the example of this sax, Pierret seems just as good as most other French makers, of which only Selmer is still in business. I came across Pierret as a saxophone brand when discussing the maker of an unusal instrument some time ago and so was excited to see one on ebay, which I snapped up. Pierret was in business from 1906-1972, although it’s possible that it was selling previously manufactured stock for its last few years.

The Instrument

This alto has a bare brass body finish and nickel (silver) keys. This type of configuration is sometimes referred to as a student model; however I find no inferiority in this model, or many others similar. The nickel has rubbed off on some keys, but the advantage of a bare metal finish to the body is that it has developed a great patina – no laquer flaking off on this one. As you can see there are a few minor dings on the body. The keys are finished with concave mother of pearl tops and the f# trill key is a typewriter type. There are flat rings with four grooves fastening the body together, which are not secured with bolts as on a Selmer. The gothic letterwork is reflected in the the Art Deco type key guards (similar to Selmer’s), although the rods are held to the body with simple flat blocks.
It’s suggested that Pierret aways manufactured two lines at any one time – a standard and advanced one. This is a standard model and it has no serial number on the neck, which can be seen in some photos of other Pierret horns.

Pierret was based outside Paris and made only saxophones. It supplied stencils to Olds, Paul Beuscher, Santy Runyon and others according to Saxpics. Information on Pierret can be found at Bassic Sax.

The Player

It has a fresh bright sound and doesn’t need much emboucher adjustment between both octaves. The keys are very light under the fingers. The pinkie keys (G# and D#) are very close to their neighbours – more so than on some other altos. I haven’t played this one out yet, but think it will work well as a gigging horn, not leaste because Oxford is my home town!

Saxifications

  • Make – Pierret
  • Model – Oxford
  • Serial Number – 2,641
  • Date of Manufacture – 1948
  • Place of Manufacture – Belleville, Paris
  • Finish – Bare brass with nickel-plated keywork
  • Weight – 5lb 0oz
  • Sound – fresh, bright
  • Ease of Blowing – Open with a bit of resistence
  • Ease of Fingering – Light balanced, G# and D# keys close to their neighbours

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